Investment Advice from Super Bowl Ads

Almost 115 million people tuned in to watch the Super Bowl last week. Viewership peaked at almost 120 million viewers during Rihanna’s halftime performance, making it the second most-watched Super Bowl ever, behind only the 2015 game.

For some context around those numbers, the most-watched non-football/non-Olympics telecast last year was the Oscars broadcast which had 17 million viewers. The most popular TV show in America right now, Yellowstone, had 12 million people watch the most recent season premiere. Probably the most culturally relevant show I watched last year, The White Lotus S2, saw 4 million people tune in for the finale.

As you can see, in an era of declining TV viewership due to the overwhelming amount of content available to us now, the Super Bowl is the rare event where most American households are watching the same thing at the same time. This is why the cost of a 30-second commercial during last Sunday’s game cost $7 million—nearly three times what it cost in 2007.

I didn’t get to watch too many ads during the Super Bowl this year. During the breaks in the game, I was either busy fetching some wings or trying to help my wife keep our baby boys content for a really long and really loud football game.

But among the commercials I did see, I couldn’t help but notice one glaring omission: Where were all of the crypto ads? Unless I missed one, I don’t think there was a single advertisement for crypto.

Just think back to one year ago. Remember Lebron James talking to himself about taking chances? Or Matt Damon telling us that fortune favors the brave? Or Larry David blasting historical inventions as useless before naming a crypto exchange as important as the wheel and the lightbulb? Perhaps most popular was Coinbase’s bouncing QR code ad that had so many people try to log on to its website that it crashed.

Apparently, there was an estimated $54 million spent on crypto ads during last year’s Super Bowl. Well, since that triumphant announcement to the world, the cryptocurrency market has proceeded to lose trillions of dollars over the past year. Bitcoin dropped 60%. Coinbase lost more than 80% of its value by the end of 2022.

Sadly, another highly publicized crypto exchange, FTX, lost some users’ entire life savings as its founder is now facing fraud charges. The hosts of celebrities who endorsed FTX, among them Larry David and Tom Brady, are now being sued.

Now, I don’t know what will happen with the crypto space in the future. I feel fairly comfortable saying this won’t be the last time I write about it. But looking back in retrospect with what we know now, the exuberance around crypto seems a little silly.

However, that’s just it; in the moment it wasn’t silly at all. It felt urgent and important. All of the ads did a fantastic job of preying on our human tendency to experience FOMO. The story all of these companies were telling was: “Have fun staying poor. It’s the next big thing. Don’t miss the boat. Don’t get left behind.”

I like this quote from Jeff Bezos:

“I very frequently get the question: ‘What’s going to change in the next 10 years?’ And that is a very interesting question; it’s a very common one. I almost never get the question: ‘What’s not going to change in the next 10 years?’

And I submit to you that the second question is actually the more important of the two.”

When building wealth, it’s much more important to focus on that second question. Accumulating personal wealth is a long-term game that requires consistency and reliability over decades.

With investing, there will always be hoards of people focusing on that first question. “What is the next big thing?” And there’s nothing inherently wrong with that approach, but it’s a difficult game to win and you’ll likely be wrong more often than you’re right.

The cool thing about investing is there are many ways to go about it. You don’t have to get caught up in “the next big thing” in order to have success. You can forego that discourse entirely and buy a diversified basket of stocks and be patient.

One of the most amazing stats is the lowest annual return over any 30-year period for the U.S. stock market, going back to 1926, was 7.8%. That’s what would have happened if you invested at the peak of the Roaring 20s boom in September 1929, just before the beginning of the Great Depression. In total, you would have made more than an 850% return on your investment over those 30 years.

That bears repeating. The worst 30-year return over the past 100 years was a total gain of 850%.

“People spend too much time on the last 24 hours and not enough time on the last 6,000 years.” – Will Durant

Thanks for reading!